Bullpen Report: September 26, 2013

Jim Johnson surrendered a hit and fanned one in a clean inning of work to notch his 48th save of the season. The thirty-year-old has now saved nine in-a-row, making him 48-of-57 on the season. The Orioles will face the Red Sox in a three-game series to conclude the twenty-thirteen season, giving Johnson a few more opportunities to eclipse the 50 save mark for the second straight season. Aside from the lack of production in the strikeout category, Johnson paid handsome dividends for his fantasy baseball owners that were willing to reach for him at his average draft position of 123.

Greg Holland took to the bump for the 67th time this season tonight, equaling the number of appearances he made just a year ago. But aside from the number of appearances, Holland’s stat sheet will look significantly different than 2012’s. Tonight’s save thrusted the right-hander’s impressive total to 47 on the year. Entering Thursday, the Royal’s ninth-inning man fanned more than 40% of the batters he faced — up from 31.5% in ‘12 — and surrendered free passes to just 6.9% of opponents — down from 11.8% last year. Holland’s ERA (1.23, 1.35 FIP) and WHIP (0.83) continued to dip after tonight’s outing, and barring a major implosion, will be career bests for the reliever. The soon-to-be 28-year-old will surely be among the top-ten closers selected in fantasy baseball drafts in 2013.

Jim Henderson served up two-hits — one of which left the park — but fanned three en route to his 27th save of the season. The homer Henderson served up was the fifth he’s surrendered in his last ten outings — making it eight earned allowed since August 31st. The 30-year-old Canadian is now 27-of-31 in save opportunities in ‘13 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

And like Colin noted last evening, Mariano Rivera took to the bump in Yankee Stadium for the last time tonight in a 4-0 Bombers loss to the Rays. The future Hall-of-Famer induced two groundouts and two fly-ball outs in tonight’s thirteen-pitch clean effort. Although there was no save attached to this evening’s lines, Mo’s entrance and exit was an incredibly emotional and amazing moment for Yankee and baseball fans alike.

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz Heath Bell
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Scott Downs
Baltimore Jim Johnson Tommy Hunter Francisco Rodriguez
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Craig Breslow Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Pedro Strop Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam Lecure
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Cody Allen
Colorado Rex Brothers Matt Belisle Wilton Lopez Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Jose Veras Drew Smyly
Houston Josh Fields Chia-Jen Lo Josh Zeid Jose Cisnero
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Dane de la Rosa Kevin Jepsen Robert Coello
LAD Kenley Jansen Paco Rodriguez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson Brandon Kintzler Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Gonzalez Germen Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Shawn Kelley
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Justin De Fratus Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Justin Wilson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal John Axford Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Danny Farquhar Yoervis Medina Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee Jesse Crain
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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Sgt Hulka
Sgt Hulka

What the H is going on in Cleveland?


A closer who has had an ERA north of 6.00 since the start of August!

I’d hate to be Francona, trying to sort this out with three must-win games left before a potential wild-card game.

What are the choices? Bump your set-up man, Joe Smith, into the 9th, even though he’s only 3/5 in saves? Do you leave your best starter (Masterson)in the pen as the closer? Blindly throw your young phenom Salazar (who rarely pitches deep into games) into an unfamiliar role? Play the hot hand, Bryan Shaw, who is 1/5 in saves this year?


One caveat about introducing Smith and Shaw’s “save conversion rates” into evidence: any time a relief pitcher gives up a lead of 3 runs or less, whether in the 9th inning or earlier, it counts as a blown save. I’m willing to bet that most of Smith and Shaw’s blown saves took place in the 7th and 8th inning, in appearances where even if they retired the side in order they were just setting up Chris Perez and not going to pick up the save anyway. So it’s kind of a negative freeroll in that sense.